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You came home one day after staying the weekend at Melissa’s to your father’s screams and your mother’s cries. You stopped in the doorway and waited, unsure of what to do. You could hear the noise but not the words. A draft was blowing in from the door you left open, so when you heard the first footsteps coming down the stairs, you hurried to close it – your mother didn’t like it when the house got cold.

Just as you clicked the lock in place, your mother came into the kitchen, tears streaming down her face. She looked at you once before bursting into fresh sobs and running out of the room. You made to follow her but stopped dead when you heard your father’s low tones rage through the house. He didn’t yell much, your father, but when he did it was not pleasant, and you knew the only person he could possibly be angry at was your sister. You threw the heavy bag that had been over your shoulder down next to the kitchen table and ran up the stairs, taking them two at a time.

As you neared your sister’s room, your father’s voice grew louder. Just as you burst through her door, you saw him towering over her as she sat in a small chair, her shoulders hunched over and her usually beautiful face marred by tear tracks that brought down the dark makeup that she wore, though she had no need for it. Your entrance surprised them both and your father looked at you. His eyes were red and he seemed to be fighting back tears. You looked to your sister and she seemed to be silently pleading with you, so you took pity on her.

“Lucy,” you said shakily. “Lucy, darling, did you stub your toe?” You walked over to where she was cowering in her chair and kneeled down beside her. You looked up at your father and smiled. “I know how to deal with stubbed toes, Dad. I can handle this.”

He seemed to want to say something, but relented, only nodding to show his agreement before walking out the door. He closed it much strongly than usual and you flinched at the harsh sound the door made against the frame as they slammed together. You turned to Lucy and put your hands on her shoulders, slowly rubbing them in an attempt to comfort her.

“Lucy, darling, what’s wrong?” you asked, concerned as she deliberately didn’t look you in the eye. Tears fell down her porcelain cheeks in quick succession. “Lucy, you need to tell me what’s wrong,” you said a little more forcefully. “Please tell me.”

All she did was cry, sob after sob, and you just froze there, holding her shoulders and trying to catch her eye. When you finally managed too, your heart constricted at the pain reflected there. Here was your little sister in pain and you could seemingly do nothing about it.

“Lucy,” you breathed, smiling shakily. “Lucy, you can tell me.”

She hiccoughed as more tears fell down her face. “They… they found out.”

“Found out about what?” you asked, a stone settling in your gut.

She let out a strangled cry and began to fiddle with the sleeve of her right arm. You brought your hands up to her cheeks and forced her to look at you.

“Lucy, what did they find out about?”

She coughed and then when she spoke, her voice was scratchy and reflected the sadness on her face. “They found out that I… that I cut.”

With that she pulled her right sleeve up, and there on her creamy skin were red slashes, two dozen at least. Your heart dropped and you felt your head spin as Lucy dissolved into more tears.

“Please don’t ask questions,” she whispered between cries. “They’ve already asked me enough. Please don’t ask more.”

All you did was nod as you stared at the red lines, criss-crossing along your sister’s wrist. Pain for her washed over you, followed almost immediately by guilt. After all, weren’t you the one who shared a bathroom with her? She spent so much time in your room nicking your clothes, yet you hadn’t noticed? What kind of sister were you if you couldn’t even keep her from hurting herself?

As the guilt grew too much for your heart, you stood up and brought her with you, crushing her into your chest, holding on to her for dear life. Her arms wrapped around your middle and her grasp was just as tight. As you stood there, holding each other, your mind raced.

Was this not the girl you grew up to envy? The sister who inherited your mother’s doll-like face, her straight blonde hair, her pink bow lips? The girl who had the kind of physique you could only wish for.

Though only fourteen, Lucy was already a heart-breaker. Three years at Hogwarts had already secured her with a boyfriend and several exes, and she had managed to be sorted into Gryffindor, something you desperately wanted ever since you had been forced to watch Roxanne, Hugo, and Lily walk away to that very table as you sat at another, confined to the yellow and black colours of Hufflepuff House. She had even managed to secure herself a spot on the quidditch team, even though she hadn’t expressed any interest when the both of you were younger and you begged her to play.

Three years her elder, and you were the opposite of Lucy. You took after your father: unruly red hair, freckles everywhere, a slightly dumpy figure. You were about to enter your seventh year at Hogwarts, and the only boy who had ever flirted with you had done so at the request of Lily, when your cousin decided that you needed a boyfriend – not that the flirting had gone anywhere. Not only had you been passed over for the Hufflepuff quidditch team ever since your second year, but you had never even been prefect, and you weren’t about to be Head Girl.

Lucy was the sister you wish you were, so what had happened? You felt even more guilt come crashing over you as you realized that you had never once thought Lucy’s life could be hard. You had always believed that she was the golden girl, the one your parents wish you were like. But here she was, crying and ripping herself apart by the seams.

So you held her tighter and silently promised her that it would be okay. You held her tighter and told yourself that you would help her. You held her tighter and hoped to Merlin that this wasn’t the last embrace you would share – a thought that would now always dominate your mind.

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